Fun Days

On Tuesday, I was rummaging through my fabric stash. I ran across four of the animal squares that were from a panel I had originally bought to make a baby quilt. Instead, I had previously made a rice bag tote for my grandson, using four of these animal squares. I thought Tuesday would be a good day for making a toy tote out of the four remaining blocks. I used the same process for making the cube for this tote that I used in making the rice bags. Instead of adding draw strings, I made two handles. This tote will be just right for storing the small toys that he is now enjoying. His sister can teach him the concept of “in” and “out” by demonstrating putting the toys in and out of the tote.
This past weekend, I read Mary’s post, Some Quarantine Fun. The toilet paper quilt reminded me of an outside uplifting message board that my DIL made to inspire and support her neighborhood. Mary also posted the link to making a paper pieced toilet paper wall hanging. I have only done paper piecing once, and it was not pretty. The toilet paper pattern for piecing is cute, but way too difficult for a non-paper piece-er like me. Mary suggested that I draw and applique one, so I gave it a try.
Process:
Toilet Paper
Draw toilet paper roll with ink pen
Trace TP drawing onto fusible interfacing
Place the interfacing onto the right side of the fabric, sticky side down
Sew on the outline of the TP
Cut out the TP, staying close to the stitches but being careful not to cut the stitches
Cut a slit on the fusible interfacing
Pull the front fabric through
Press and shape
Top stitch 1/8 inch around TP with white thread
Cut shape for TP roll from tan or different colored fabric
Quilt TP

Background
Cut a 10.5 ” square of main fabric
Cut a 10.5 ” square of batting
Cut a 10.5 ” square of muslin
Make a quilt sandwich and quilt

Backing
Cut a 10.5 ” square of main fabric
Cut a 2.5″ x 7.5″ strip for quilt block sleeve

Message Strip
I cut a 2″x 10″ strip of fabric for the lettering. I made it this long in case I messed up with the ink stamp.
I folded and pressed as in making a binding. I also folded in the sides. Then I used a letter stamping kit to print : Keep Rolling On

Assembly:
Center the TP onto the quilted main fabric
Free motion stitch around TP and TP roll with black thread
Hand stitch or machine sew message strip under the TP
Place quilt hanging strip and backing right side down on right side of quilted main fabric
Sew around four sides, leaving a 3″ opening on the bottom side
Trim corners
Pull the main fabric through the opening
Press and top stitch around all four sides

I used a ribbon and some lace to thread through the quilt block sleeve.

Correction on the video: Place the sticky side of the fusible interfacing face down (not up) on the right side of the fabric.

Thank you, Mary. Your blog post was an inspiration for a fun day.

Memorial Day

Thank you to Laura Bruno Lilly for her Memorial Day post. It is a loving tribute to our veterans and also to all of the souls we have lost to Covid-19. I read this post after I had seen TV coverage of people crowding on beaches, not practicing social distancing, and not caring for the welfare of others. Laura’s post reminded me that we are better than this. There are people who care for others. Thank you, Laura.

I would also like to thank everyone who responded to my post asking for ideas and ways to handle the creative block I was experiencing. Thanks for your support.

Most of last night was spent watching the weather radar, as we were under a tornado warning. My home is in the northeast part of town. Our neighborhood was included in the southern border of the tornado warning area. It got pretty rockin’ and rollin’ for about an hour. A tornado did hit the northwest part of town. This morning was spent cleaning debris off the lawns and street. We were lucky. Another storm is expected tonight, so I have my fingers crossed.

Yesterday was dry for most of the day, so I got to go forΒ  a walk and then a drive. When I returned home, I made two mini messenger bike bags for my grandchildren. The pattern is from Sew She Can Sew . My DIL, Shenika, had told me about this website. The site offers many free patterns. It took about an hour and a half to make both of the bags.

Since everything is pretty much soggy and muddy, I stayed in today. I spent a few hours making another Halloween quilt. I had already made two Halloween quilts for my younger grandchildren. One was a Turning Twenty pattern, and the other was the Show Biz pattern by Villa Rosa Designs. The quilt I made today is Batty, from a Running Doe Pattern. I had seen the pattern at the Mesquite Bean back in January. My grandbaby’s room is decorated with the Batman theme, so I thought a Batty Halloween quilt would be perfect for him. Last week, I called Joy, my friend who works at the Mesquite Bean. Joy is absolutely fantastic. She pulled fabrics for me and sent photos so that I could choose what I wanted. She also worked the math in figuring out how to adapt the pattern. Instead of making it a 56″ X 70″ quilt, I made a 56″ X 56″ quilt.

Rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week, but it is mostly storms at night. Hopefully, I will be able to get out for a walk tomorrow.

Stay safe.

Creative Block

Have you ever experienced a creative block?
What technique or process do you go through to get back on track?
Usually, taking a walk gets me started. Sometimes, ideas come to my head in the wee hours of the morning. Other times, just thinking of family, events, or friends, can get me on the track of making something.

This week, I realized I was tired of making the same type of things. I was stuck…not motivated. Quilts, thread sketches, small art, fabric art…just didn’t set me on fire. I made one fabric collage that I embroidered instead of thread sketching, but it was not fun.

Ducks on the river in Brackenridge Park were cute, but not inspiring.
My sister sent a great photo of a praying mantis…but I did nothing with it.

I made more masks for friends, family, and myself. I tried new patterns for making these masks. Making masks may not be my favorite thing to do, but it is one way to help people. It was fun trying out new patterns. I plan to continue making masks and build up a stash to have ready for anyone who needs one.

I guess that having a creative block during this pandemic is not really a problem. But for me, it is this creative process that is keeping me healthy and helping me through this unstable and scary period.
I texted my sister, Emma, to see what she does when she hits a jag. She gave me a few starters that sounded challenging.
She suggested I try drawing something with my non-dominant hand to get the creativity going. She also suggested drawing with my eyes closed. Emma did say that she did not recommend me thread sketching with my eyes closed. πŸ™‚

So, I drew a selfie, using my left hand. The results were a bit shaky, but it made me smile. Then I drew some birds, using my left hand. I found it to be challenging and fun. Then, I thought about trying to draw with my left hand, but this time on fabric. This was a bit more difficult, but I liked the results. I drew a Willow Tit bird. At first, I drew it with the tail up, but their tails extend straight back. So I covered up my mistake by adding a fabric tree limb and some leaves. I started embroidering with my right hand, but decided to switch to my left hand. Funny, but I had less needle pokes using my left hand than I usually have when I use my right hand. This exercise of using my left hand really helped me with my focus…which has been off lately.

After completing the bird embroidery, I called my friend at the Mesquite Bean to talk about a quilt that I want to make for my grandbaby. We talked design and fabric over the phone for a good part of the day. Then I went to pick up the fabric. It is such a fun fabric and design, and I hope to start on this quilt soon.

My son sent me a photo of some art from my granddaughter. I love seeing her art. I love to hear her talk about her process and I love watching her work. We spend time on Zoom, drawing together. We learned how to use the whiteboard on Zoom. Once again, I have been inspired by one of my grandchildren. I am also looking forward to seeing what my grandson creates this week. I think I might pull out my water colors or pastels again. I have not sketched or painted on paper for a while. It might be fun to dabble around again.

It seems like switching things around a bit helped me to reboot.
I would love to hear what you do whenever you have a lapse or hit a creative block.
Stay safe.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Each day brings a challenge to stay hopeful and positive.
My Mother’s Day flowers are still beautiful and make me smile.
Silver Sneaker exercise videos, walks, and other activities help get things in perspective, but there are days I just hit the wall. This was one of those days.
So, I turned off the news, got in my car, and went to visit my special tree. This oak tree is in the parking lot of my neighborhood school. This is the school where I spent the last 30 of my 42 years of teaching. The school is located at the base and in front of Comanche Lookout Park. The story about this tree is that the district was allowed to purchase this property with the stipulation that the tree would never be cut down. For many years, I would park my car under this tree. Now, it is the meeting place where my Meemaw friends and I social distance gather. The school is a special place for us, since we all worked there together.
I wanted to share the images of this tree and its burl. The burl presents an image of a split face. One side is dark, and the other is light. There is one “eye” that looks black, encircled by white. The other eye is almost shut. I made an attempt to capture this spiritual tree in fabric, but I was not happy with the preliminary results.
I also wanted to share photos of two Halloween quilt tops that I completed this week. The Turning 20 quilt pattern was pieced a few weeks ago. On Monday, I added two borders to complete the top. On Tuesday, I began another Halloween quilt, using the Show Biz pattern by Villa Rosa Design. I altered the pattern, both by choice and by accident. For the center, I used one fabric to make a 15″ block. The pattern calls for the center to pieced with different blocks. I was on the third round of blocks, when I realized that I had not read the directions carefully. Instead of ripping an redoing, I decided to follow the pattern that I had started.
I hope everyone is doing well.
Stay safe.

Monday,Monday

Ideas and inspiration for my daily art pieces can come at any time of the day. (Sometimes, inspiration doesn’t come at all.)This morning, at about 4:30 am, I started thinking about the trips my Meemaw friends and I have taken to the beach. We have gone birding at South Padre Island. We have also taken numerous trips to Rockport, Texas. Our last trip to Rockport was this past March. The fun times we had there were my inspiration for Today’s Art.
I pencil sketched a picture of us walking on the beach. Then, I traced the drawing onto white fabric that was backed with firm interfacing and muslin. I pulled fabric scraps to make our clothing. I then thread sketched around the figures in order to be able to cut them out as individual appliques. I used different embroidery linen fabric to make a beach collage. White tulle was placed over white burlap to add texture and form waves touching the sand. The appliques were glued in place and then thread sketched.
After a bit of online exercising, I watched a few movies. This totally mellowed me out. That’s when I decided to make a Mellow Monday selfie. I followed the same process listed above in the making of this quilt square.
I hope everyone had a Mellow Monday.
We are expecting rain this week.
Although the thought of not being able to go out is bothersome, we definitely could use the rain.
Maybe Tuesday would be a good day to dance in the rain.
Who knows?
I hope everyone is well.
Stay safe.

Mother’s Day

My sister, Emma, sent me a photo of her and her dog. They were relaxing on the backyard deck. Instead of attempting to make a fabric art piece exactly like the image, I took a little liberty with the models. In the photo, my sister and her dog were laying on a outdoor sofa. I decided to make a back view of them sitting in her backyard. My sister has a gorgeous garden and yard to enjoy with her pal, Bella. I sketched Bella and Emma on paper. Then I used this as a template to trace onto muslin. The muslin was backed with firm interfacing.The next step was to collage the images with fabric. This was followed by thread sketching the image. I cut close to the thread sketching to make an applique. I made a quilt square using green and blue fabric for the top. I used a muslin backing. Then I glued the applique onto the center of the block and thread sketched once again.
The flowers that my son and DIL sent me are in my sewing room. As I was admiring the arrangement, I realized that this will be a Mother’s Day where I will not be with my sons. I have a photo taken of us the last time the four of us were together this year. These guys are the best! They are my pride and joy.
I made a quilt block based on the image of the photo. It is an abstract, thread sketch outline of our photo.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Stay safe.

Another Friday

Surprisingly, this week went by pretty quickly.
One of the Meemaws and I made some masks for the teachers at the school where we used to work. The teachers are in the midst of having to empty their rooms in order for the school to be totally sanitized. This is quite a task for teachers. People may not realize the amount of teaching supplies, books, and materials that teachers store in their closets, and any spare rooms, in order to provide safe, productive, creative and fun learning environments. And most of these supplies are purchased by the teachers and not the district. Teachers are cleaning and at the same time still teaching online. Thank you teachers, for all you do.
This week, I made a few new fabric art pieces. My inspiration came from my grandchildren. I thread sketched an image from a photo of my youngest grandbaby. I have not seen him since March, and he is now 6 months. The other fabric piece is from a photo of my grandson practicing his karate. I love receiving text message from him. I mail him letters and also text messages with jokes.
The other art piece is a thread sketch of a lovely bouquet of flowers that my youngest son and DIL sent me for Mother’s Day.
I also made some mini pocket prayer quilts. I got the idea from Shabby Fabrics. I changed the process a little bit. I did not want to bother with turning the fabric inside out on such a small square. I also wanted the pocket to hold a prayer coin that could be taken out, instead of being sewn inside the square. So, I made the square like a would make an envelope pillow cover. I cut two fabric and one batting square at 3.5″ each. Then I cut two pieces of fabric for the envelope closing. I purchased some Serenity prayer coins from Amazon. For the grandchildren, I made some Sunshine pocket mini quitls. When my sons were babies, I would sing them “You are my Sunshine”. I sang this same song to my granddaughter and grandson when they were infants. I found these beautiful sunshine coins on Amazon that were just perfect.
The rest of my days, this week, were spent making quilt blocks out of the art pieces I have been creating since March. I am toying with the idea of putting them together and making a pandemic quilt. All of these pieces reflect inspiration from my grandchildren, family, and friends…everyone I miss so much. Some pieces also reflect things I see on my daily walks…or even my breakfast! Thanks to Tierney and Mariss for suggestions on how to piece these blocks. If I decide not to quilt the pieces together, I will still have a box filled with individual quilted blocks.

Friday…Finally!

Another week down.
Following the social distancing guidelines, I “met” with the Meemaws this week. We met in the parking lot of the elementary school where we all worked. It just so happened that the teachers were outside, giving out work packets to parents who drove by. Not every home has the wifi or technology for the online classes. Our district did issue lap tops to families in need, but there are still many children who do not have the access. I was so proud of the teachers. They stood outside all morning, greeting parents andΒ  handing out packages and encouragement. We said our hellos from a distance and expressed our appreciation for all they do. Our plan is to drop off some goodie bags for the teachers next week.

Our Meemaw Socially Distant Fiesta was a huge success. Our Zoom chats have been fun, but there is nothing like seeing each other in person again. We each had our masks and watched our distance. Since it was Poem in Your Pocket Day, we each read a poem. We situated ourselves around the oak tree at the far end of the parking lot…opposite and distant from where the teacher/parent drive through was taking place. Comanche Lookout Park is right in front of the school. My students and I used to take many learning excursions to this park. On this particular morning, my friends and I saw the cutest brown rabbit running in and out of the bushes. That cute little bunny was the subject of myΒ  art project for the day. I tried new stitches, and made up some of my own, in embroidering this piece.

Another project I made to end this week was a pentagon fabric ball. I saw a tutorial by Rob Appell and thought it would be cute for my youngest grandson. I used the remaining Dr. Seuss charm squares I had left in my bin.
In the video, I included a photo of a bird that has taken residence in one of the Meemaws birdhouses.

My son just sent me some sidewalk messaging that my granddaughter wrote. She wanted to help people by writing positive messages. My first reaction upon reading these messages was to cry. My heart goes out to all of the children whose lives have been so drastically changed. Then, I just felt so proud of my granddaughter. She left chalk on the sidewalk so people could write their own messages.
When I read her messages I couldn’t help but feel hope. I’m sharing my granddaughter’s messages of hope and positivity.

“I know we are going through hard times but we can and will get through this.”
“You can do whatever you put your mind to.”

I hope everyone is well.
Stay safe.

 

End of a Very Long April

The month of April is finally coming to an end.
May will be even longer…but, I will be positive.
Most of my Today’s Art projects are still a combination of embroidery, thread sketch, fabric collage, and water color pencil. I never know when or where I will find inspiration for the project.
The first slide in the video is a selfie of my younger years. I drew an outline of myself, then made the paper doll clothes. I added the background by using water color pencils.
The second slide is about my favorite source of inspiration… birds. I had some scraps of a fun red fabric that I thought would be perfect for birds.

My Meemaw friends and I used to attend Zumba Gold classes twice a week. I do so miss these fun workouts. These days, Zumba takes place in my living room, all by myself. I try to get my husband to Zumba with me, but he does a disappearing act whenever I start. The background for this piece is a quilt block I made a long time ago.

My Meemaw friends and I had big plans for the Fiesta celebration that takes place in San Antonio every April. Marti decided we should have our own social distancing Fiesta tomorrow in the parking lot of the library. We will not stay very long…and we will be wearing our masks. The city allows these brief drive by meetings. I thread sketched the Meemaws with Fiesta flowers in our hair and masks on our faces.We have been having Zoom chats every week, but it will be good to see them again.

Sometimes, inspiration comes from the craziest of sources. One morning, I was pulling a cinnamon roll out of the package, and I thought it would make a fun piece. I thread sketched and embroidered this piece.

Many times, the source of inspiration comes from my grandchildren. One of my grandson’s kindergarten assignments was to read the book, Hey, Little Ant by Phillip Moore. It is a thought provoking book where a child needs to make a decision about squishing the ant or not. The reading assignment was followed by a writing assignment. My grandson had to write a persuasive letter. He did a fabulous job of convincing me to NEVER SQUISH an ANT! Of course, I had to capture this moment in fabric. I am so proud of my grandson! I made a fabric thread sketch of an ant.

The next project came about while I was cleaning out my thread tail bag. As I pulled out the thread, I started to shape and play with the thread. I drew a shape of a bird on muslin. Then I shaped the thread to fit into the drawing. I covered it with black tulle and sewed it with my machine. I had fun with this one.

Each morning, I make it a point to tell myself the day and the date. These days are becoming so blurred and I do not want to be confused. When I realized it was Wednesday, I thought of the Hump Day commercial of the camel walking around the office asking if the people knew what day it was. I made a fabric camel.

Tomorrow is Poem in Your Pocket Day. When I was teaching, this was a very special and fun day for my students. We had been reading and writing poems during the previous weeks. Then on this special day, we would carry a copy of a favorite poem in our pockets that we crafted out of paper. We would randomly choose a partner and share a poem with our friend. This year, I made a fabric pocket. I wrote a poem about the Meemaws that I plan to read to them when we meet tomorrow.

I hope everyone is staying safe.

My Happy Place

And so, it is Saturday. Or, is it? Who knows anymore?

My video today begins with a selfie of my unruly, uncut hair. When I see myself in the mirror in the morning, I get a very rude awakening. My hair looks a bit like a combination of Einstein and Beethoven. I sure miss my hair stylist!

I was able to deliver the quilts I made for my two nephews. I had dropped one off last week. This week, I picked up the second quilt from my friend who longarms for me. After binding the quilt, I was able to have a socially distant visit with my sister and nephews. It was good to see them.

Our mornings have been cool and breezy, so I have been taking advantage of this pleasure. I sit on my outside rocking chair to drink my coffee and hopefully get inspired. One morning, the blackbirds roosting in the trees were being particularly raucous. I found myself listening to the different sounds they made as they flew in and out of the trees. The blackbirds seemed pretty territorial and there were some mad dash attacks on the mourning doves and sparrows that happened to get too close. The next morning, I took my stitching bag outside with me to drink my coffee and make something. I created a fabric piece about the blackbirds. The blackbirds were pretty active again and I just totally enjoyed watching and listening. I had researched the different types of sounds they make and found it very interesting.

Today, I received an email from one of the condominiums in Port Aransas, Texas. The email stated that the beaches at Port A are closed to visitors, but Port A will be ready to welcome us back as soon as they can. At first, a feeling of sadness washed over me. Port A has been the host of many family outings. There are so many precious memories of time spent there with my sons and grandchildren. I have always thought of Port A as My Happy Place. So, I decided to make a fabric art piece of this very special place.

To make the piece, I cut a 10″ square of muslin and backed it with firm interfacing. I then used fabric with a cloud design and glued it to the top part of the square. I had some leftover “wavy” blue fabric from a yellow ducky quilt I made for my grandson. I cut it with a scalloped bottom and a curvy, horizon top. I had some textured beige linen type fabric that I used for the sand. I covered the sand with a white tulle piece. I added some layers of the sand on top of the tulle, then thread sketched the sand. I also thread sketched the waves and quilted the clouds. I took a separate piece of muslin and drew a back-view selfie. I then added fabric to create the hair, a hat, and a beach dress. I thread sketched and outlined the selfie and cut it out as an applique. I also drew two seagulls and prepared them to applique. I decided to quilt this block and bind it.
I now have My Happy Place hanging in my sewing room. Hopefully, my family and I can visit Port A once again.

Stay safe.